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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

About Joy Piedmont

Joy Piedmont is a librarian and technology integrator at LREI - Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School. Prior to becoming a librarian, Joy reviewed and reported for Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch. She reviews for SLJ and is the President of the Hudson Valley Library Association. When she’s not reading or writing about YA literature, she’s compulsively consuming culture of all kinds, learning to fly (on a trapeze), and taking naps with her cat, Oliver. Find her on Twitter @InquiringJoy, email her at joy dot piedmont at gmail dot com, or follow her on Tumblr. Her opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, LREI, HVLA or any other initialisms with which she is affiliated.

Booklist Editors’ Choice 2017

Booklist Online published their year-end list last month and in the pre-holiday rush, we missed it! There weren’t a ton of surprises–frontrunner faves The Hate U Give and American Street are both there, as well as Turtles All the Way Down which seems to be gaining momentum and buzz. Personally, I’m pleased that M.T. Anderson’s Landscape with Invisible Hand made the list as it’s been flying under the radar despite its five stars and that’s just weird and wrong. Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage also appears and you’ll hear more about that one from Karyn and Sarah soon.

On the nonfiction side, Vincent and Theo continues to rack up the honors as does Eyes of the World; however Nonfiction Award finalist, The 57 Bus, which we’ll be covering next week, didn’t make Booklist’s cut. It only has three stars so it’s not like a six star juggernaut was overlooked but the subject is so timely and so readable I’m surprised it doesn’t have more buzz. Then again, I haven’t read a few of the other nonfiction books that are Booklist’s editors’ choice, such as A Dog in the Cave: The Wolves Who Made Us Human or Faith and Fury: The Temple Mount and the Noble Sanctuary: The Story of Jerusalem’s Most Sacred Space (the former has three stars; the latter has none) so I can’t definitely say which is more deserving over others.

Like I always say though, spreading the love is always welcome. The more books that get mentioned and listed and honored mean more book titles that find their way to readers and that’s always a good thing. Be sure to check out the full list at Booklist and let us know what you think! The ALA YMAs are getting closer and closer so let’s ramp up our wild speculation!

Landscape with Invisible Hand

Landscape with Invisible HandLandscape with Invisible Hand, M.T. Anderson
Candlewick, September 2017
Reviewed from ARC; five stars

It’s not fun to lose, and as readers, we don’t usually take pleasure in witnessing our protagonists suffer and fail at every challenge they face. Yet we also know that failure, yes failure, can be highly instructive and valuable. In Landscape with Invisible Hand, Adam does nothing but fail in the short vignettes that make up M.T. Anderson’s latest novel. It’s science-fiction satire that goes down easy but has a clear agenda. Anderson’s a previous Printz honoree, for both Octavian Nothing books, and he’s a consistently great writer, even if he isn’t winning all the awards every time out. Landscape doesn’t have the momentum of American Street or The Hate U Give but that doesn’t mean it can’t surprise us in February.

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Morris and Nonfiction finalists usher in the 2018 awards season!

It’s that time of year when the air is crisp and the breeze will send notes of pine and firewood past your nose. It’s also that time of year when all of the best-of-the-year lists and YALSA award nominations come out! In the past few days the 2018 Morris Award and Nonfiction Award finalists were announced. As usual, there were a few surprises with books we didn’t already have on our “official” nomination list (or the secret longlist we keep from y’all).

I’m particularly excited about these Morris finalists, so let’s start there. First, all of the finalist authors are women! Four of the five authors are women of color! In the press release, committee chair Sarah Julsonnet said, “The selected titles tackle heavy topics such as mental health, racism, violence, and privilege as well as relationships with friends and family and how they shape a person.” We’ve already reviewed The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas as well as S.K. Ali’s Saints and MisfitsDear Martin by Nic Stone and Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman had been on our radar lately so their Morris recognition means we’ll definitely be taking a look at them. Devils Within is a brand new title to me and the premise sounds very heavy; death and white supremacists are not exactly the topics I’m looking for at this time of the year but we’re definitely adding it to our list for consideration.

Dear MartinDevils WithinThe Hate U Give cover imagesaints and misfitsStarfish

Last year’s Nonfiction Award finalists definitely reflected the political mood of 2016, but this year’s finalists span a wider range of subjects. The 2018 Nonfiction Award finalists this year are:

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Lisa Charleyboy
Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found by Martin W. Sandler

#NotYourPrincessEyes of the WorldThe 57 BusVincent and TheoThe Whydah

I reviewed Vincent and Theo last month, which is particularly striking for what it does with voice and narrative structure. As for its Printz chances, I’m starting to think that the adventurous style might be too divisive to achieve the consensus it will need to make it all the way. #NotYourPrincess, Eyes of the World, and The 57 Bus were already on our (secret) longlist–personally, I can’t believe that I haven’t gotten to The 57 Bus yet because it’s been on my to-read pile for a while now. Finally, we’ll be adding The Whydah to our list. It includes some first-hand accounts; when done well, that can be great and who doesn’t love pirates?

This is the time of year when awards season starts to feel real for me so I’m excited and I can’t wait for all the other lists! How about you? Did your favorites make the cut? Which of the new-to-us titles should we rush to read first?

 

*That is, it’s like this if you live in a cold-weather place; I don’t know what December smells like in warm weather. Sorry warm-weather readers!

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers

Before we get into Vincent and Theo, I want to acknowledge that the National Book Awards were announced on Wednesday evening and the winner for Young People’s Literature was Robin Benway’s Far From the Tree. I’ll be covering that one later in the season and I’ve been intrigued since before it was longlisted for the NBA. I’m adopted and periodically grumble about the lack of contemporary YA fiction with adopted protagonists. While I’m excited for the representation I’m also cautiously optimistic, as one usually is when faced with your identity as written by someone else. If you’ve already read Far From the Tree and have thoughts about its NBA win, let us know in the comments!

Okay, now back to those Van Gogh boys. I’ll confess that I can’t think about Vincent Van Gogh without hearing Don McLean sing “starry, starry niiiight…” or seeing Tony Curran’s eyes well up with tears in his brilliant portrayal of Van Gogh on Doctor Who. He is one of the most famous painters of all time and we all think we know who he was; brilliant, depressed, and unappreciated in his time. Deborah Heiligman challenges the conventional wisdom and offers a thesis of her own about Vincent: the story of Vincent is incomplete without the story of his brother, Theo.

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Fish out of water

A lot of young adult literature is about teens in unfamiliar situations and places. Sometimes the differences they experience are socio-economic, sometimes they’re cultural, and sometimes they’re magical. Fish out of water tales are usually easily relatable, regardless of the specificity, because most people can remember how they felt the first time they encountered something that was wholly outside of their lived experience up to that point.

Two February books—American Street and Piecing Me Together—have black teen girls narrating their lives in first person. Both have received lots of critical praise with five and four stars, respectively. More significantly, and the reason why they’re paired together, both books are by black women writing deeply emotional stories that their voices imbue with authenticity and integrity.

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We Need Diverse Books: Romance Edition

We’re in the mood for love today so we’ve got two reviews of YA romance for you. Both books feature couples who aren’t usually seen in mainstream romantic narratives, so regardless of their chances for the Printz (we’ll get to that in the reviews) they’re important contributions to the continuing effort to bring diverse representation to all kinds of stories which makes them worth checking out. But how about those other qualities that the RealCommittee will scrutinize at the table? Will either of these even be in the conversation?

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Nonfiction Roundup Part One

Just as this has been a year of grief and tough topics in fiction, nonfiction has been similarly focused on emotionally draining subject. (Or perhaps it’s my personal exhaustion with the state of the world combined with the difficult reads? Hard to say.) Today Sarah and I are reviewing two very different books about the fight for racial equality. Ann Bausum’s book is a straightforward historical account of a protest that took on a life of its own while Loving Vs Virginia is narrative nonfiction using poetry and primary source material. What are the chances that either of these will turn up as contenders this winter?

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The 2017 National Book Award Shortlist

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 10.39.17 PMThe National Book Award shortlist is here and across all of the categories 15 of the 20 nominated authors are women and in the category we really care about here at Someday, all of the finalists were written by women!

Here are the five nominees:

What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

We were already planning to cover the Benway and Zoboi. With this announcement I’m excited to move Elana K. Arnold and Erika L. Sanchez’s books on to our review schedule. The description of Clayton Byrd sounds like a middle grade so I’m not sure if it has any young adult crossover appeal, but I’d love to hear from someone who has read it. Personally, I’m surprised and a bit disappointed that Angie Thomas’s brilliant The Hate U Give didn’t make the shortlist, which was my favorite of the ten longlisted novels but this is a great group of books. Of the five finalists, which book are you most excited about? Tell us the in the comments!

 

We Are Okay

We Are OkayWe Are Okay, Nina LaCour
Dutton Books for Young Readers, February 2017
Reviewed from ARC
Four stars

I almost didn’t finish We Are Okay. Not because it’s bad–in fact, it’s quite beautiful–but because reading it required a lot of emotional labor. When fiction pokes at pieces of your heart that you thought you had protected and hidden away, it requires strength and stamina to push through when all you actually want to do is bury the book at the bottom of your to-read pile.

All of this is to say that I had a deeply emotional experience reading Nina LaCour’s novel. Critics, myself included, tend to separate heart from head in their professional reviews. Here though, LaCour’s ability to access and communicate so many raw and complicated feelings is extraordinary and so relevant to any discussion of this book. I couldn’t have cried through the last 40 pages of We Are Okay without LaCour’s precise and detailed sentence-level writing. This is a small book densely packed with complicated people, feelings, unimaginable loss, heartbreak, and so much love.

Spoilers ahead. If you haven’t read the book (and you really should) consider yourself warned.

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At the Edge of the Universe

At the Edge of the UniverseAt the Edge of the Universe, Shaun David Hutchinson
Simon Pulse, February 2017
Reviewed from ARC
Two stars

2017 is zipping along at a brisk pace and it’s hard to believe that it’s already time to talk Printz. This time last year, I was reviewing Shaun David Hutchinson’s We Are the Ants. Hutchinson’s latest, At the Edge of the Universe is a spiritual twin to his previous novel and today we’ll see if it has what it takes to be a Printz contender.

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